Taxi drivers

Relief for taxi drivers: “Now I get my life back”

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (PIX11) – They are as iconic as the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

We’re talking about those yellow cabs that were all over the streets of New York.

There are far fewer, but many drivers are still struggling with the huge debt of buying their taxi medallions.

“Today was a celebration for me to get my life back,” yellow taxi driver Mouhamadou Aliyu told PIX11 News.

Aliyu said he was glad he was finally getting help from the city and federal government to pay off his $400,000 taxi medallion loan.

Aliyu joined nearly a hundred taxi drivers on the steps of City Hall to hear how $225 million in debt has now been wiped off the books.

It’s thanks to a program started by former Mayor De Blasio and then brokered by Mayor Adams, Senator Chuck Schumer, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortes and the Marblegate lenders:

“Through the Medallion Relief Program, regardless of the initial loan, more than 3,000 homeowners will see their loans reduced to $170,000,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference. “The city will pay $30,000 on each loan and monthly payments will be capped at $1,234,” the mayor added.

Driver Aliyu said he contemplated suicide when at least eight other drivers took their own lives.

Because Aliyu had to pay more than $3,000 a month in loans, he said he feared losing his home and not being able to feed his three children after yellow taxi ridership plummeted due to commutes based about apps and the pandemic.

“The mayor did the right thing by taking control of this thing and making the decision to help us out,” Aliyu, owner and driver of the medallion, told PIX11 News.

“It’s been long overdue. Finally, there’s an administration in New York that takes care of the drivers who really need it,” said Fernando Mateo, founder and president of the New State Taxi Federation. York, at PIX11 News.

But there are still 850 medallion loans spread across 19 lenders who officials hope will join this debt relief program.

“We call on all lenders to do what Marblegate has done to be part of the solution,” Bhairavu Desai, leader of the Taxi Workers Alliance, said at the City Hall Steps conference.

The program has been extended until October 7, with hopes that more drivers and lenders will come forward.